In John 5:39 Jesus makes a huge claim, he tells the Jews who were seeking to kill him that they search the Scriptures because they think that they will have eternal life in them, but the Scripture bears witness to himself. This claim is so big because Jesus is telling them that the book that they devote their life to is about him. Of course these Jews thought it was blasphemy to say this because, to them, this book is about God and his works through history.
After the resurrection, walking with his disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus exposited the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:27 says that “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Who is Jesus Christ to make these kind of claims?
The deity of Jesus Christ has been under attack since he was on earth. Jesus merely caused a riot among the Jews because he said at the end of John 8 “before Abraham was, I AM” (εγω ειμι) the following verse (59) the crowd picked up stones to throw at him. Why would they seek to kill him? In John 8 Jesus makes multiple references to Exodus 3:14. When Moses asks God who shall he say sent him God replies in verse 14 “I AM has sent me to you.” [i]
Isaiah 44:24 God says “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.”
God makes it clear that he didn’t have any help in creation, yet, John 1:1-3 says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Here we see the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, taking part in creation.
Colossians 1:16 also speaks of Jesus as being the creator. Verse 16 says “For by him (speaking of Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
Isaiah 43:11 says “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.” Compare this to Luke 2:11 “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
There is a grammatical rule in the Greek language called the Granville Sharp’s Rule. This rule is applied when two nouns that are describing a person (not proper names) are connected by the word “and” (kai) and the first noun preceded by a definite article (the). For example in 2 Peter 1:11 it says: “…our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” In Greek the definite article is before the word “Lord”. Granville Sharp’s Rule says that in this case both nouns are applied to the same person.[ii] Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior!
Earlier in the book of 2 Peter this same construction is used with the replacement of one word. 2 Peter 1:1 says “…our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” In Greek this reads exactly the same except you take out the word for Lord and insert the word for God. In this verse both God and Savior are applied to Jesus.
1:1: tou theou hemon kai sotaros Iesou Christou
1:11: tou kuriou hemon kai sotaros Iesou Christou
A similar construction, but the same rule is to be used in Titus 2:13 which reads: “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. And then goes on to say (14)“who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Indeed God has gave himself for us on the cross!
Opponents, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, twist the scripture and translate, “the Word was God” to “the Word was a God”[iii]. This would then lead to polytheism. It is likely that they would answer this by quoting Psalms 82:6, which reads, ‘I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;’”. While it is true that earthy Judges are called “gods” because they represent God’s authority on earth, Jesus is making a greater claim. Jesus quotes this verse in John 10, after the Jews charge him with blasphemy. He is telling the Jews, that the scriptures say Judges are called gods, how much more is He who is sent from heaven, God. He also tells them to look at his works in order to accept this claim. It is also notable that Psalm 82:7 says, after calling Judges gods, that “nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any princes”. In Hebrews 7:23-24 it makes the argument that past priests would all die off, but Jesus, hold the priesthood forever because he continues forever.
Another reason why John 1:1 cannot mean “the Word was a God” is because it does not work grammatically. In Greek this read “kai (and) theos (God) en (was) ho (the(definite article)) logos (Word)”. The definite article is attached to “logos” and not “theos” this is because it is identifying the Word as the subject. This is why it reads “and the Word was God”, instead of “God was the Word”. In 1 John 4:8, it says, “…God is love” this has the definite article before the subject “ho theos” this is what makes it “God is love” and not “love is God”[iv]. Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the first instance in John 1:1, “the Word was with God” it is speaking of God almighty but the second instance “the Word was a god” (their translation) it is speaking of a generic deity or being godlike. [v]
Revelation chapter 22 is filled with a testimony of the deity of Christ but it must be discussed in its context. Verses 3, 8-16 reads:
(3) No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him.
(8) I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, (9) but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (10) And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. (11) Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” (12) “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. (13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (14) Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (15) Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (16) “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
In verse 3 it speaks of the throne of God and the Lamb. We know that Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for His people (John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19). Then it says “His servants will worship Him”, who? God? The Lamb? It makes no distinction between the two. They also seem to be sitting on the same throne.
If we skip down to verse 8 we see that John worships the angel. Unlike Jesus, the angel rebukes John and says “You must not do that!…” This angel would be sinning to receive worship that is rightly due to God. The angels are not to receive worship but rather they are to be worshipers. But who do they worship? Hebrews 1:6 says that “…He brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘let all God’s angels worship Him’” (speaking of Jesus). The angels worship Jesus because He is God.
In verse 13 Jesus says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” He also says the same thing in Revelation 1:8,17; 2:8; and 21:6. Jesus is quoting Isaiah 44:6 where God is speaking to make a point that He is the only God: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (cf. Isaiah 41:4 and 48:12). There can only be one first and last. If God in Isaiah 44 calls himself the first and the last and Jesus is not God, than Jesus would be second and second to last (or later), or the Beta and the Psi (Greek alphabet, letters next to Alpha and Omega).
In looking at Revelation 22 in a “red letter Bible” Jesus seems to be popping in and out of conversation, it’s hard to know where the angel stops talking and Jesus starts. Opponents of Christ’s deity may say that the angel that refuses worship is Jesus and proves He’s not God. Verse 16 answers that objection, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these for the churches…” Jesus tells us He is not the angel but, rather He sends His angel. While I admit that the red letter Bibles could have the placement of some of the red text in the wrong place, it cannot be the case that verse 13 or verse 16 is the angel speaking or verse 9, Jesus speaking.
Most objections to the deity of Jesus Christ can be answered by a correct understanding of his nature. The Bible reveals that He is fully man and fully God (Hypostatic Union), Not a 50/50 mixture. When opponents see Jesus saying the Father is greater than I, or sleeping, eating or learning they cry “see he cannot be God!” but of course the Father is greater than Him, of course he sleeps, eats and learns, He is 100% man and this must be the case for Him to be a sacrifice for us.
John 5:23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
A question to those who deny the deity of Jesus Christ: Do you honor the Son JUST AS you honor the Father? If not, you do not honor the father. If you do, but still don’t think of him as God than that is idolatry.
[v] William Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar Third Edition pg. 27